We have a new celebrity podcast to follow — and this one takes a different course than most. On Saturday, actress Dakota Johnson launched The Left Ear podcast, aimed at sharing stories from survivors of abuse, assault and other traumas. But this isn’t the start of her advocacy work. At last year’s Global Citizen Festival, Johnson shared with attendees a phone number that she later posted to her Instagram.
Johnson encouraged women “in every corner of the world” who face “extreme violence and sexual harassment on a daily basis” to call the number and share their stories on her private voicemail. “I don’t want to speak for you. I want to listen to you,” she said. She’s taking that listening to The Left Ear, named for the idea that the left ear is the closest to our hearts. It is a podcast touting itself as an “introduction into non-judgmental listening, and a space of refuge and healing for the survivors who called in droves in order to finally share their stories.”
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In a later social media post promoting the show, Johnson reiterated that these voicemails are her attempt to listen and let survivors speak for themselves. “These are real stories from real people around the world,” she said. All contributors to The Left Ear are unedited and uncensored, though their names are not revealed and their voices are altered to protect their identities.
Johnson said listening is the most powerful thing a person can do: “By listening with your heart, you can save someone even just a little bit.” The first episode clocks in at just twelve minutes and the website accompanying it include links to crisis response hotlines and mental health professionals that help minorities. New episodes will be released every Monday.
What Johnson is doing is powerful, especially considering that a woman is assaulted every 73 seconds in the United States, and one out of every six women in America has been the victim of an attempted or completed assault, as per the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Trauma like this is hard enough to discuss, so it’s a testament to the strength of these women that they agreed to share their stories.